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Nobodys perfect. However there exists a minuscule minority of DooYoo users who like to point out each and every error we make from the straightforward typo which even the spellchecker missed to that most heinous of crimes misuse of the humble apostrophe. I'm sure the e-mail system was not designed so that fellow DooYooers could be reprimanded with a barrage of e-mails and detailed rants pointing out your many failings. Incidentally the funniest e-mail I've ever received was from someone congratulating me on writing an excellent review but apologising that they were unable to rate it because my return rates weren't high enough. Making rates anonymous would remove this problem as well as reducing the amount that DooYoo pay out to writers each month and it would also give a true indication of the reviews usefullness to genuine consumers.
There are those who declare a review as "not useful" simply because they don't share your point of view and of course there are the tit for tat revenge raters who object to their 151 word drivel being rated as "somewhat useful" because it contains very little detail. With the reduction in points for some categories this is almost forgivable. It does seem a little ridiculous to write a 2000 word epic monologue on a four hour film to be rewarded with ten pence for your efforts when the same remuneration is offered for those whose reviews just scrape over the word limit.
There are always exceptions to the norm and there are several DooYoo writers who manage to cram a lot of pertinent information into a very short review whilst there are others who drone on and on for pages without really saying anything that they couldn't have put across in a few hundred words. Just because something is short does not mean it is not useful, equally if your reader isn't engaged within the first 50 words they're unlikely to stick around for another thousand or so.
By far the most widespread DooYoo abuse is also the most widely accepted. It lurks within the "about me" descriptions where DooYooers offer to return rates. Surely this negates the whole point of writing a review in the first place if those who decide if a review has any merits are the ones least likely to ever consider using it. What good are hair straighteners to a bald man? Or booty lube to a Catholic priest... well perhaps that's not the best example I could have come up with but you get the gist.
Admittedly I was lured here by the pound signs rather than a desire to share my experiences with other. Rather surprisingly I'm finding that I'm enjoying it an awful lot more than I anticipated but I can quite understand why those who come here thinking its an easy buck do the absolute minimum to reach payout and walk away. Equally I can understand why others churn out five or even ten mediocre reviews a day, day in day out although I'm fairly confident I'd run out of things to write about.
Knowing the Americans love of litigation I'm amazed that no one has sued author James Rollins for portraying several US defence suppliers as the supporters of modern day Dr Mengeles. Although Mr Rollins goes to great lengths to point out that this novel is a work of fiction it falls into the grey area where the unthinkable is actually possible even plausible. Its common practice within the farming community to purchase centrifuged semen for artificial insemination that guarantees a ninety percent probability of a female calf purely based upon the separation of the male and female spermatozoa at a given speed. Scientists can already genetically engineer human embryos to ensure they are free of specific genetic defects so why shouldn't they also be able to select other characteristics to ensure that they are also present and who better to demand such a product but the armed forces. Imagine the power of a cloned super army of tailor made soldiers and you get a glimpse into the future.
Of course every experiment has humbler beginnings if only for speed. First you work on a species with a maturation time of several days that way their entire life span is over in a relatively short time frame and any deviations from the expected are also rapidly obvious. Once testing on a species such as Drosophilla (the common fruit fly) has been achieved researchers move on to more complex organisms, usually mice, once again because of speed but also because of cost. After success is achieved here testing then moves on to the realm of the ape since primates have the closest genetic make up to humans. If a technique works on a monkey then there's a greater possibility that human experimentation will have a positive outcome too.
Deep underground beneath a zoo in Baghdad just such experimentation is being performed although the untimely intervention of the Iraq War results in the decimation of the zoo requiring the transportation of several live subjects to an alternative facility. The ship on which the animals are travelling is destined for a top secret laboratory in the USA but it encounters a tropical storm en route and the ship is severely damaged. Agents of the US border patrol board the unmanned ship and contact a research vet named Laura to assist with the identification and transportation of the animals. The team also note with a degree of concern that one cage is open and some of its occupants missing. The damage done by the exiting animals and the size of the newborn cub left behind give the team cause for concern. Far more concerning though are the disembowelled decapitated corpses of the crew found on a nearby island, dragged there for a quick snack by the escapees before fleeing the scene.
The novel follows Laura and Border Patrol Special Task Force operative Jack Menard as they attempt to track these animals whilst simultaneously discovering what makes them so unique.
Altar of Eden succeeds where Jurassic Park did not. This is no tourist trip. It's a very real threat in the heart of America, more importantly it's a clandestine approach to a tempestuous subject where the possibility of humans genetically engineered to be more than nature would allow them to be is a very real prospect in the not too distant future. The debate already rages regarding the right to abort an unwanted foetus on the basis of it being an unwanted sex, imagine then if you could pay to have a baby who was guaranteed to be as intelligent as Einstein or Marie Curie or who could run as fast as Linford Christie. Every parent hopes their child will succeed at something, imagine then that you could make that possible before birth and wonder what the armed forces of various countries would pay to have a telepathic army of perfect killing machines.
It's an odd subject choice for a book but one which is well executed with a few minor annoyances such as the reliance upon siblings and friends of the key characters in the face of adversity in addition to the special forces officers. It wouldn't happen in reality and it detracts from an otherwise engaging read.
Eleven years ago Will's ex-girlfriend Julie was murdered and his brother disappeared leaving behind a trail of blood. The logical conclusion would seem to be that there was a struggle and Will's brother escaped injured, went on the run and was never seen again. Will has never accepted this and believes to this day that there was a third person involved.
Life moves on and Will falls in love with a girl named Sheila who disappears in the middle of the night and is found dead several days later, killed in exactly the same way as Julie. It would be logical to assume that someone has a grudge against Will. The who and the why are more than a little bit vague.
Will finds photographic proof that his brother is still alive and sets off on a quest to find him and prove his innocence aided and abetted by Katie, the dead Julies younger sister. Surely Will can succeed where the FBI and an international man hunt have failed?
Will is helped along his journey by an ex-Nazi turned internationally acclaimed yoga guru who spends his nights helping the homeless children of the city in the hopes of persuading them that there is an alternative to drugs and prostitution. This gives him entry into the seedy underworld of switched identities and Mafioso dons.
Quite frankly its all too absurd and convoluted for words. I never developed any empathy for any of the characters, the book failed to come alive and I'd go so far as to describe it as a tedious read with incredibly flimsy leaps of faith linking one bit of plot to the next. I reached a point where I was reading it to get it over and done with rather than to find out what happened next. It got more and more bizarre and relationships became more and more tenuous to the point that even in a fictional world they really didn't make any sense at all. There were plenty of plot twists but they didn't flow with the story. It was almost as if someone had a flow diagram for the perfect novel which read page 20 insert scene on murder, page 26 reveal sighting of third person in vicinity, page 40 add obscure detail and this was rigidly stuck to even though the story hadn't quite made it that far.
I've seen Harlan Cobens name gracing the covers of a number of novels lately, quite why he's the current darling of the crime genre is beyond me. His writing is mediocre at best and that's a very generous compliment for the author of a novel with more holes than a Swiss cheese.
A close friend once jokingly referred to me as Barbara when I arrived on her doorstep smelling rather pungently of chicken manure. Like my honorary namesake from the 1970s sit com The Good Life I would rather be pottering around the garden in wellies and PJs than dolled up to the nines in whatever the latest over priced fashion happens to be. Unsurprisingly most of the items I covet follow in this vein and so when I came across A Slice of Organic Life in a book magazine I simply had to have it. Clearly in my haste I missed a few of the statements on the front cover which may have given a little insight into the contents. Sadly I was so excited about preserving harvests and gathering mushrooms and growing salads on windowsills that I didn't pay too much attention to the bit about raising pigs.
I was expecting this to be a sensible yet enthusiastic technicolor introduction to organic gardening on a small scale. Bread baking, shopping locally and collecting rainwater are things that anyone can do with just a little effort.
I was remarkably excited when my book arrived in the post and abandoned everything to sit in the garden with a glass of wine surrounded by chicken in the hopes of discovering something new that I could put into practise.
The book is divided into three sections. Those things which don't need gardens, ideas for people with tiny gardens and things for people with gardens, allotments or fields. Initially the articles were very simple things including recipes for homemade bath oils, making flavoured vinegars and cleaning without chemicals. To emphasise the pros of doing this a list of all the nasty ingredients found in everyday household chemicals and their health effects were also included. It did seem a little heavy handed to the point of being farcical. How many people are aware that shoe polish contains nitrobenzene which causes birth defects, vomiting and death? More importantly how many people clean shoes any more or even own shoes that can be cleaned in the traditional sense.
The book contains hundreds of full colour pictures. They do a great job of filing up lots of space transforming the book from a selection of suggestions to a glimpse into what might be achievable with enough time, space and money. As an example the section on bread baking occupies four pages only two of which have any text and half of that is a recipe. The brevity of each section makes it an ideal book for older children. There's just enough detail to fire their enthusiasm without boring them with the finer detail. It's more a brief overview of organic ideas than a detailed how to guide.
By far the most fabulous suggestion in the book is urban beekeeping. Ever wondered what to do with the balcony of your apartment which is just about big enough to stand on but not big enough to sit on. It turns out the answer is to bung a beehive there and house a colony of bees. No doubt this will make you unbelievably popular with the neighbours.
Whilst I'm happy to acknowledge that two thirds of the things in the book really aren't practical for me it didn't stop me wondering if I could give it a go anyway although no doubt my husband would have one or two things to say if I left the oven on for seven hours in order to make dried apple rings. I suspect cherries steeped in brandy for three months prior to eating would be received with a little more enthusiasm.
Perhaps the greatest thing about the book is its one of those that you can dip into at random and there always seems to be something of interest to try. My youngest found a very simple recipe for strawberry jam which she's desperate to try when the strawberries eventually ripen providing the chickens don't eat them all like they did last year. There are also some great recipes for a variation on the humble ice lolly using pureed fruit which gives us yet another use for rhubarb.
The most exciting section (to a seven year old anyway) is the section on keeping a milking cow. Simply purchase a healthy three or four year old pregnant cow, place in a five acre field and milk twice a day and artificially inseminate as required. Simples. No mention of hefty vet bills, DEFRA registration, livestock transportation requirements or the abattoir costs of disposing of a male calf or even the costs of producing beef from him. Nor is there any indication of the several thousand pounds that a cow will cost to purchase in the first place. Still it's a nice idea if you happen to have a spare five acres or so to play with.
Should I win the lottery this book would give me some fabulous things to consider. As it is I'll stick to the smaller scale suggestions which are both achievable and fun.
A ringing phone before breakfast is never a good start to the day, particularly when the call is made by your mother who orders you to your childhood home immediately without explanation despite the fact that home is several hundred miles away. Now most people wouldn't settle for such a demand without explanation but Evan Casher is no ordinary person. Mums a photographer, Dads a computer geek and he is a famous documentary maker. Better than that Evan is a man head over heels in love. Why then does Evan walk into his mums kitchen to be met by her bloody corpse? Why is Evan knocked unconscious and his laptop stolen? Why can't Evan locate his father or his girlfriend? More importantly why does a stranger come to Evans aid without Evan knowing he needs assistance by kidnapping him from a police car and incapacitating the driver?
As plots go its intriguing. However the explanation behind the events is at best far fetched and at worst totally and utterly ridiculous which turns a potentially good story line into a farcical idea which gets more and more ludicrous by the minute. Perhaps mummy and daddy have a sideline in espionage. Perhaps they are professional killers, perhaps they have supplied information to the CIA without Evan having a clue that they are anything other than model citizens but there comes a point when enough is enough and even then the acronyms keep flowing. CIA, FBI, MI5, MI6 they're all involved along with a top secret group of hired assassins code named The Deeps.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the book, it was nicely paced, well described and rather captivating. Then suddenly it all went wrong almost as if the second half was written by another person entirely. What was a well thought out story suddenly became a case of how many ridiculous and totally random concepts can we cram in. Things became more and more confusing and the book went from being very enjoyable to the sort of thing that makes you want to hurl it out of a window.
Why would the child of perfect parents choose to go on the run based upon the claims of a complete stranger. How would he develop the skills to out manoeuvre trained assassins and why is he bullet proof? So many questions without any form of even half attempted explanation.
I can only think that when Harlan Coben claimed this was "one of the years best books" his previous choice of reading material had been a combination of Mills and Boons romances and The Famous Five.
What could be a better summer read than a book with a gloriously sunny cover and a child in a Technicolor bathing suit holding hand with a lady in a bright pink floral shirt. Something about the cover evoked happy memories. The addition of the cover the quote from Glamour: "prepare to fall in love with this book" made this the perfect choice for a weekend at the beach. Or so I thought.
At 229 pages its not the thickest of books and I wasn't expecting it to take long to read but then again at £6.99 I was expecting considerably longer than the time it takes to eat lunch. I kid you not. A smidgen under 35 minutes cover to cover. I can't even claim to have been speed reading or even engrossed in the plot. The sad truth of the matter is each page has fewer words than the average page of Mr Man book. Mostly it's a heck of a lot of blank space with the odd shopping list thrown in. It would have been fairer to include this in the short story section of the bookstore and reduce the price tag quite considerably. I have penalised it a DooYoo star for being ridiculously overpriced.
That aside the story itself is that of the relationship between a 15 year old girl, Claire, and her divorced mother with whom she lives. Like many single parents Claire's mum does all she can to make ends meet and this means working long shifts with call out duties as a midwife at a hospital. The book follows the correspondence that Claire and her mother leave for each other on the refrigerator door. What it doesn't do is fill in the gaps between notes so when a disagreement arises it is implied and the reader has to guess what actually went on which leads to some gaping holes in events.
The refrigerator door serves as the perfect foil for discussing the many questions that arise when a loved one develops cancer but which you don't want to voice out loud because you know you won't like the answer.
A note of caution - those readers with friend, family or who themselves are in the early stages of breast cancer may want to think twice before attempting this book.
There are days when I want to stick my fingers in my ears and scream such are the annoying trills and whistles and random shrieks that occur as several German soldiers die whilst the other half plays Call of Duty or one of a dozen or more very similar sounding games whilst the demonic daughters watch TV in another room and our youngest plays the nauseatingly chirpy build a Bear Workshop game on her Nintendo DS. On days like this you can't hear yourself think and whilst pulling the circuit breaker to the house is very tempting its not overly practical. Clearly the easiest solution is to stick my Ipod headphones on and enjoy the relaxing strains of Bach but then I'm blissfully ignorant when war breaks out and the dog starts barking at the postman so I hit upon another cunning plan. A battery of headphone suitable for each and every occasion. We have everything from wireless ones for watching TV to wired ones that shrink small enough to fit a six year old with a very very small head.
Actually the hardest part of finding a good pair of headphones has been the size. The in the ear ones are uncomfortable for children, the sort that hook over the ears are too heavy and dangle too low and the majority of the old fashioned alice band type simply don't shrink small enough for her head. Not one to be deterred we eventually came across a pair of Technics RP-F290 headphones which although heavier than I'd have liked have very squishy foam filled leatherette pads which sit comfortably over her ears and have been pronounced the best headphones ever. They have several very handy features. The first is an incredibly long cable which is fab when watching TV as it allows you to get about 3m from the screen although at the same time this extra length is frustratingly long in the car when it seems to get tangled up around everything. The ear pieces pivot and also swivel which allows them to be perfectly positioned to your head and the alice band style head support is fully adjustable but unlike cheaper versions it does actually stay in the position to which you adjust it rather than stealthily extending itself over time.
The headphones are marked as right and left because the alice band is angled slightly to provide the optimum listening position. Its pretty obvious when you've got them on the wrong way around as they feel draughty whilst the right way round they fit snugly over your ears. The most important bit is obviously the sound and they sound great and are far better than our previous tinny freebie aeroplane headphones.
At £20 a pair they weren't cheap but they are a well made entry level pair of headphones.
Full of the sort of juvenile comedy that makes Mr Bean so popular. As a one off film its priceless, I suspect a second watching would reveal it to be full of cheap laughs which wouldn't work a second time around but the sheer ridiculousness of it had me snorting out loud with laughter much to the bemusement of my long suffering other half. Perhaps the comedy element came because so many of Dennis' (the hapless Mr Bean-a-like) mannerisms have been displayed by him at one time or another but mostly because the comic timing was fabulous.
The film starts on Dennis' wedding day when he makes a run for it from the bedroom window rather than walking his pregnant bride down the aisle. Jump forward five years to his attempts to bond with snotface, the child he abandoned at the same time. However its one thing trying to gain the affections of a child and another trying to compete with mums new boyfriend who is handsome, loaded and uber fit. Somehow Dennis the chain smoking chap with beer assisted middle aged spread finds him declaring that he'll run a marathon in 3 weeks time to win back his girl. Cue far too many scenes of man with beer gut wedged in microscopic skin tight lycra. Its not pretty but it is very very funny. Once.
One of the big promotional pushes on this film was the introduction of novice producer Davis Schwimmer (of Friends fame) to the other side of the camera. Perhaps it needed a big name to draw an audience as with the exception of Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz) I hadn't previously heard of any of the actors. Not that this mattered in the slightest. It was British humour at its most juvenile and it was great.
What could a missing reformed call girl, a small town beauty queen and the reclusive owner of a pornographic magazine empire possibly have in common? It wouldn't take a great stretch of the imagination to leap to the obvious conclusion but you'd be wrong. Very wrong in fact. This particular book is full of red herrings, dubious links and random irrelevant detail.
Alex Delaware is a child psychiatrist who no longer treats children instead specialising as a police liaison. His links to the local police force allow him a degree of freedom and access to information that no other civilian could possibly obtain and so when a former patient goes missing and her mother gets fobbed off by the police its Alex to whom she turns for help. Clearly Alex is bored. I mean why else would you try to locate a patient with whom you've had no contact for a dozen plus years nor a patient whom you saw on only three occasions without any success. Still it's a dubious enough link to allow Alex to pretend to be a private detective tailing suspected bad guys whom he happens to come across by accident when the police fail to manage to find them.
The story isn't particularly interesting, there are far too many ridiculous assumptions and propositions to make it a fun read. Half the time you're wondering just how desperate the author was to churn out yet another novel. Very desperate me thinks although perhaps he was attempting to out do his wife but this is clearly negated by including the first chapter of her latest novel at the end of his.
As who dunnits go this is a pretty poor example and would not entice me to seek out any other books by the very prolific Mr Kellerman.
Get paid every time you participate in a survey claim the people at Pure Profile and for once this is actually the case. Even if you're screened out you get paid, Ok so its usually only5p but 5p is better than the likes of Toluna, Lightspeed and Valued Opinions who decide after ten minutes that you don't fit the demographic their client is looking for and terminate you survey without payment of any form.
Of course there are more than a few negatives to Pure Profile. Mostly that unless you happen to be a partially sighted lesbian from an ethnic minority with at least one life threatening illness, a tribe of children and a part time job paying several million a year you're likely to be screened out of everything.
Payment is made in cash direct to your bank account once you reach the heady heights of £25. Since joining Pure Profile in March 2006 I have attempted every single survey to enter my inbox and am finally teetering at the brink of claiming my first ever £25. However since the surveys are few and far between the final elusive 50p is likely to take several months to obtain.
You don't always receive notification to your inbox that surveys are available. Once in a while its worth logging in to check. These random forays into the pages of Pure Profile are usually more lucrative but you can waste a lot of time visiting the page each and every day only to discover that the site remains barren for weeks on end.
Surveys are bought in from other companies so they never seem to follow a common layout. The subjects are very varied and remuneration is reasonable for the amount of time invested in each project.
Unfortunately though the sheer lack of surveys available places them way down my list of preferred sites. Four and a half years to reach payout makes this a long term commitment. There are many more prolific survey companies out there.
You can usually count on Karin Slaughter for an outrageously gory stomach churningly graphic go to sleep with the light on read. This time round shes moved away from that and written about white supremacists in small town southern America. Every possible stereotypical image possible has been used from references to the Klu Klux Klan to Hitler and then some.
The book starts at the end of the story which in itself is rather odd. After that the events leading up to this particular day are explained in tediously yawn worthy detail. The book features three of Karin Slaughters most dependable characters. Dr Sara Tolliver, paediatrician and part time coroner, her husband police chief Jeffrey and his deputy Lena Adams. Lena isn't your average police officer. She's been kidnapped, raped, knifed, orphaned, molested as a child, has a murdered lesbian twin sister and a drug addict as a guardian. No surprises then for guessing that a visit back to her home town isn't going to be a pleasant experience especially when that visit is a summons from a concerned friend to say that her uncle and guardian needs help.
The small town in question turns out to be your average destitute shanty town where the locals have nothing better to do than sit around drinking all day, occasionally taking time out to beat their wives or shoot up with meth. That's not the America portrayed in the Disney World brochures. The old police chief quit after he was turned into a human torch, the new one is barely out of high school and the dentist is a coroner working out of a car repair garage. Confused? I was and the more I read the more confused I got.
The novel doesn't flow. It jumps about in spurts and just as you think the words are starting to flow off the page the chapter abruptly stops and you lurch forwards or backwards in time to another series of events. It had all the elements of a great story but they never quite seemed to come together.
The authors fascination with the detailed cleaning of toilets and hotel bathrooms is by far the oddest of a lot of very odd details included within the book.
Karin Slaughter is usually a reliably good read but unfortunately not on this occasion.
There are some random facts that almost every child without question knows. Snot is always green, firemen rescue cats from trees and dinosaurs died out in the Ice Age. Its just one of those things. Imagine then an entire film built upon the premise that underneath the ground upon which we walk is a portal into another world, a world at the earths core where rivers of lava flow freely over lava falls, mutant ninja carnivorous plants thrive and dinosaurs roam. Imagine then that a freak accident sends Sid the sloth plummeting into a ravine where he finds three dinosaur eggs and sets about nurturing them in the haphazard way only a sloth with a disaster attracting personality can and voila you have a very odd children's film.
The producers have managed to keep the common themes of friendship in the face of adversity and the familiar bonds which made the previous two Ice Age films as enjoyable as they were but the story line is rather weak, the jokes jaded and a geriatric Diego with double vision is wasted on young children, it means nothing. Ellie the mamoth in labour is another of those odd things that weren't very well portrayed. One minute Ellie is a bit wobbly on her feet, the next she has tummy ache and is being defended from a herd of ravenous dinosaurs by Diego and then minutes later a fluffy baby mammoth arrives along with the proud dad. If you're going to go to such lengths to make a movie fluffy why not have a giant stork arrive with the baby in a nappy?
There are other oddities which whilst possibly appealing to some adults served only to annoy my children. Random hearts and mushy music signify that Scrat the squirrel is in love but to keep repeating these segments in slow motion with lovey dovey eyes got very irritating very quickly. It wasn't essential to the story line but it did serve to extend the film by 10 or so minutes.
Not the best animated film I've seen recently and by far my least favourite of the Ice Age movies released to date.
Almost ten years ago I was living in a poky five room flat just off the North Circular Road on the outskirts of central London within ear shot of the over ground and the underground and a ceaseless stream of never ending traffic with a newborn baby, a husband and a lodger. Call it post natal depression or a sudden glimpse of the lunacy to which I was subjected on a daily basis but I'd had enough. It wasn't a gradual process but a sudden snap that's it we're off decision that uprooted my family moving us 300 miles to a cottage in the wilds of North Wales with a leaky roof, no central heating and several large holes where doubled glazed windows should have been. There was no rationale behind my selection of property nor a job to go to or any family or friends. Just pure gut instinct and a determination to make it work.
In this particularly funny book by Carole Matthews the central character William reaches a similar conclusion and drags his unsuspecting family along with him to the hills and dales of a small Yorkshire village where he attempts to make the transition from townie to small holder making almost as many mistakes as we did along the way. I had tears of laughter streaming down my face at times. Whether this is because the book is genuinely funny or because I've been there, done that and screwed it up almost as badly was at times debatable. Clearly no one moves seamlessly from the life of a city dweller to one where everyone knows everything about you and anything you do becomes a source of amusement in the village tea rooms. It's also a very odd feeling to instantly be a part of a small community who become more like family than your actual family are.
Each time William ventures forth into what counts for civilisation in a village with circa 100 residents, mostly four legged ones, he returns with another addition to the family ranging from blind chickens, geriatric ewes and insane goats to Hamish the hound from hell.
This story follows in Wills shoes as he attempts to live his first year in the country although things unexpectedly change and his wife Amy is left trying to hold things together as her worst nightmare unfolds before her eyes. She might be living the dream but its not her dream and things go rapidly downhill.
Its not James Herriot but its not bad either.
It's very rare that a series of books comes along where you can't pick up a book at random and stand some chance of enjoying it. Of course there are always exceptions to this and Soul Harvest is one of them. The book leaps in where its predecessor left off with minimal explanation. The author assumes you are au fait with the many interwoven relationships between the central characters. If you're not. Tough. There's no hope of you putting things together in a way that would entice you to read the book as a stand alone novel. In the case of the Left Behind series there are three books prior to Soul Harvest all of which need to be read in sequential order for you to stand a chance of enjoying this or even vaguely comprehending what is going on.
To summarise previous events the believers in a god in any of its guises have been raptured and taken off to some other place whilst the non-believers have been left behind in the hopes that they will either find religion or die the death of a thousand deaths having undergone the worst that mother nature or the almighty supreme being can throw at them. Since this alone would be rather dull along comes the anti-christ Nicolae Carpathia to persuade the world that the religious nuts, better known as the Tribulation Saints, have it all wrong.
The novel is a very eloquently explained interpretation of some of the more outrageous future claims of the bible. The authors manage to put this into a readable format although there's far too much sermonising for my liking. It's an interesting concept for a book but not one that will appeal to everyone.
My initial thoughts upon embarking on a quest for the perfect puppy toy were to wonder if they were gold plated or came with a free diamond ring. I wasn't expecting them to be cheap but almost everything on the market is in excess of £5 with some as much as £20. For a piece of rubber for a teething puppy to chew this seemed ludicrous. Pretty much everywhere you turn the tempting toys offer a variety of enhanced rewards over their competitors from the virtually indestructible Nylabone to cotton rags, Frisbees, floating squeaking thing, the choice is seemingly endless and then things are additionally complicated by the sizings. Too small and your puppy may choke, too big and it'll never get its jaws around it. What should have been a very simple task suddenly became a whole lot harder. Armed with a little knowledge it was a process of elimination;
Frisbee - no good indoors and since the puppy in question had three more weeks to go before her release into the big world outdoors that was impractical
Squeaky things - possibility of choking on the squeak
Nylabone - rumoured that shards appear when the bone deteriorates
Rawhide - apparently not good for dogs with potential for choking
Too small - yet more potential for choking
Since the hairball in question is a monster sized puppy and at 8 weeks was bigger than a spaniel with a predicted final bodyweight of 60kg (10 stone) an awful lot of things weren't suitable.
In the end I opted to pay £6 for a large Puppy Kong on the basis that the rubber was very thick but mostly because I could cram it full of food and leave her to kick it around the floor. Little did I realise how much fun or mess this would be.
Firstly the Kong in question is cone shaped and very very bouncy, although erratically so. You have absolutely no idea where its going to go and when thrown by the puppy in question it can bounce five or six times in any direction it feels like reaching heights of up to 4 feet. On more than one occasion this has been the cause of mild panic as OHs beloved plasma screen came perilously close to being hit. We have since upgraded our house insurance to cover accidental damage.
Our puppy is very content just to sit and gnaw on the kong, especially after its been filled as it retains some of the smell. For the moment were sticking with dry puppy food but I'm assured that filling it with gravy and freezing it prior to giving it to her will keep her quiet for hours. I'm not overly convinced that a house covered in melting gravy is worth the peace gained. I'll certainly be trying that in the garden as soon as possible though.
Kong offer an aerosol meat paste with which to fill the kong but I get the distinct impression that it could be very messy to use and whatever goes in has to come out, not necessarily into the mouth or drool of the puppy in question. The idea of meat paste on the floors simply does not appeal.
The Kong in question cost £4.50 (plus P&P) from E-bay where a choice of pink, blue or green was available. Its certainly been worth the money as its kept the four legged fiend occupied for hours without showing any signs of wear or tear. I'll definitely be replacing it with the tougher adult version when she develops her adult teeth.